Sideways, an excursion of two middle-aged friends into California wine country that has all the outward trappings of a nachos-and-cheese experience—bromance; loose women; and, above all, near-constant imbibing—manages to retain its own philosophy without crashing headlong into the aesthetic dead-end of excessive pleasure-seeking of either the bibulous or libidinous kind. On life’s roads, there’s rarely a direct route, might begin an interpretation of the film’s intriguingly cryptic title. And that’s a good thing. The smaller side streets that wind around the detours of human sorrow often arrive at sunnier shores.
South Park got it right: George Clooney loves the smell of his own farts. The whole audience could be holding their noses, and he’d go right on smirking. So smug and talentless is he that he even manages to be vomitatious in a role that’s tailor-made for him. In Up in the Air, director Jason Reitman features this bronzed hunk of I’m-better-than-you manflesh in equally shallow soap-opera-level claptrap about a smarmy smartass named Ryan Bingham who fires corporate employees for a living.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound commits the cardinal artistic sin of trying so hard to tell us something important that it tells us nothing insightful or interesting. It puzzles me why a director who generally understood better than any other the power of the camera to show rather than tell would want to pontificate about the use of psychoanalysis to investigate repressed memories as if he were delivering a thesis at a symposium of mental-health professionals. The film constitutes little more than dime-store Freudian pedantry.